White Sage, also called incense sage, is native to the Southwestern United States and was revered as a sacred herb by Native Americans there. Branches of white sage are burned as incense, for purification, and in sweat baths. This sage is not used as a spice.
White Sage is one of the over 700 different Salvia’s in the world and one of a dozen or so native to the southwestern U.S. The highest concentrations of white sage plants are found in southern California. White sage leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and silvery-grey to yellowish-grey in color, covered in a thick downy white pubescence.
White sage leaf is strongly aromatic, with a sage-like aroma. In its native habitat, the plant’s aromatic constituents help protect it from insects and grazers. It was used by native peoples for medicinal, spiritual and cleansing purposes and was later adopted by European settlers.
Did you know? Apiana, the species name for this sage is from the Latin for "bees" — appropriate in that bees have an affinity for the flowers of white sage.
To use as incense, place white sage leaves loosely in a fireproof bowl or container. Ignite the white sage leaves and wait for the flame to die out. If it doesn’t, gently blow on the leaves to extinguish the flame. The leaves should continue to smolder and will scent the room.
To use as a smudge, fan white sage smoke from the smoldering leaves over the person or object to be cleansed using one's hand or a feather. To smudge a room, carry the container around the room, making sure the smoke is carried to the whole room.
To make a smudge stick or wand, choose cleansing herbs of your choice, such as white sage, cedar and sweetgrass, and bundle them together, tying them with thread to make a wand. Light the wand and use the smoke to cleanse a person or object. When finished, the wand can be put out by snuffing it in a fireproof bowl or container and saved for future use.
Important: Keep burning white sage, incense or other smudging herbs away from flammable objects, small children and others not able to handle smudging responsibly.
Suggested Uses: White sage is burned for its pleasing scent. When burned as incense, many people feel it creates a feeling of clarity, focus and positive energy. Others use white sage is a sacred ritual with specific steps and language used in the ceremony.
White sage leaves can also be made into a tea and used as a body wash. They can also be simmered until they steam and used as an inhalation or added to a sweat room.
Caution/Safety: Do not burn white sage or other plants around persons with asthma.